We’ve talked about trenching and excavation safety here before. However, there’s an update to OSHA’s National Emphasis Program (NEP) that everyone in the construction industry needs to know. The new OSHA directive, CPL-02-00-161, addresses an unfortunate resurgence in trenching and excavating fatalities. You can read the full details in OSHA’s instruction here, but this is what you need to know and prepare for now.

  • OSHA Compliance Safety and Health Officers must now initiate trenching and excavating inspections whenever they observe an open trench or an open excavation regardless of whether or not they see a potential violation.
    • These required observations could occur during officers’ regular workday travel, or while they are engaged in programmed or un-programmed inspections.
    • Inspection results must be reported back to the OSHA area office and through a new online reporting system.
    • Enforcement began January 2019.

Unexpected compliance visits are known to increase the blood pressure of many foreman, but how can you prepare your crew to handle them flawlessly if one were to occur? The answer is simple; require a competent person to inspect all trenches, even those less than 5 feet deep, daily and after hazard-increasing conditions like rainstorms. Read more on this here. Following standard 1926.651(k)(1) will keep you compliant during unexpected inspections and keep your workers safe from harm.



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